A microscopical Italian cabriolet, with a cuteness factor on the redline, a blond beauty with smokey eyes makeup and an endearing smile. These are some of the ingredients in today’s story of Tabita and her Autobianchi. Please keep on reading, just consider yourself warned.
I was sitting comfortably in a lawn chair at Charlottenlund (Horse) Racing Track, enjoying the summer sun while watching cars driving onto the track. A car show was taking place and the ViaRETRO stand was ready to receive guests. I’m pinching my eyes in the sunlight to focus on something further ahead, and I have to use my hand to shield my eyes from the sun. My eyes didn’t deceive me. Two middleaged men rush towards me across the gravel. I’m thinking that it is way too hot for that kind of physical effort – and at THAT age. What could be so important on such a quiet Sunday?
”Søren, a fantastic Autobianchi will arrive shortly. We have never seen it before but it is in an original red with (a) black interior,” one of the men said, catching his breath while resting both hands on his knees. ”We don’t know the girl driving it, but we told her she was welcome to park in front of the ViaRETRO stand, so she is coming over here as soon as she is through the line at the ticket booth…” the other man said, not quite as impaired by breathlessness, but he was also a couple of years younger than his mate. As the two gentlemen’s report unfolded, I felt an increasing interest in the matter, but I was, nonetheless, a little sparse with reaction and it only amounted to one single word ”Her ???”
The girl arrived with her red car, which was really nice, and they both charmed a gathering of sincerely interested men. A broad consensus arose among the gathered gentlemen that on a sunny Sunday, nothing was better than admiring a beautiful Autobianchi…
The car is an Autobianchi 500 Bianchina cabriolet from 1966, the name of the girl is Tabita and she is somewhat younger than the car. They have been together since 2007 and this is to continue. Tabita says that even if she should acquire other classic cars, she could not imagine parting with the Bianchina. ”I do dream about a Mercedes SL ‘pagode’ however, I think that series is very elegant” she says, and stresses, ”but I will always keep my Autobianchi”.
She had received a call from her Fiat knowledgeable bonus-dad Lars, who had helped her find a Fiat 500 in great condition. Tabita had been more than happy with her Fiat, but when Lars half a year later had called regarding a Bianchina she should take a look at, she caved, and a reasonable exchange took place.
Lars lives on Fyn, but Tabita lives in Copenhagen, so she has to handle smaller services herself. Together with Lars, she has developed a system where they both have pictures of the engine and by looking at these, they agree what, where and how Tabitha can adjust and fix the car. They were actually successful in several operations in this way, among others a change of the fuel pump. She has been in luck with the car, which hasn’t given her problems, but has been faithful and effective during the period she has had it. However, it did spend a whole season on Fyn with Lars, as it couldn’t charge and troubleshooting took some time.
I ask how Tabita drives her car and if she has been on longer journeys in it? A roguish smile appears on her face as she says, ”the longest journey I have had, was when I visited some friends in a sommerhouse near Helsingør”. She tells that she has not considered a longer journey in the little car, and that it is reserved for trips close to Copenhagen. I know that Tabita is a hunter, and I can imagine the blond woman in camouflage clothes with a hunting rifle on her way an early morning I the little red car with the top down. “No, I couldn’t do that, instead I use my modern Fiat”.
Tabita does have the classic car-bug. No doubt about it. She talks about the first day of spring, when she takes the car out for the first ride. About driving over the ramp from the garage as something special, and of how October can be somewhat sad when the season is drawing to an end. I guess we all know that feeling, it is a part of the built-in melancholy and poetry of dealing with old cars. I ask Tabita if she could be tempted to drive her Autobiachi during winter. She strongly rejects it. The car can’t withstand snow and salt and the heater in the car is close to non-existing.
Tabita has not previously attended gatherings or other classic car shows, but after last summer, she discovered the joy of sharing car-enthusiasm with others. The positive atmosphere at a random Saturday visit at the Arne Jacobsen gas station had been overwhelming, she had felt welcome and accepted an invitation to the Charlottenlund-show. She assumes that there are around 10 other Bianchina’s in Denmark, and it would be delightful to see some of them and meet their owners.
Tabita is what you can call a complex modern woman with a taste of functionalism – The danish architect Poul Kjærholm, classic cars, hunting rifles from Italy and of course high-heeled shoes. Shoes are important, and she tells happily about her regular spot with a nametag on the wall of one of the city’s shoe-heel-repair shops. I can’t deny that I am a little impressed by her skills in getting in and out of the car, not to mention her dexterous footwork on the pedals of the car with the somewhat distinctive driving shoes.